IBDers often are hospital frequent flyers. While I don’t keep a packed bag around, over the years, I have gotten a routine down, and so have my loved ones in case I am not able to pack my bag. Here is what I find essential to take to the hospital- for practical reasons and because I need them for my mental well-being (which is equally important). Update Oct 29: I have included feedback that I got from the members of “The Great Bowel Movement” (Check out the site and buy a shirt!)
- Two days’ worth of your regular meds. This may sound silly, because after all, you are going into a hospital. Well, you’re not the only patient there. It takes a while until they have their systems updated, everything approved by a doctor (especially if you need painkillers) and the order sent to the pharmacy. Then it may be that the med you need is unavailable in the amount/size you need etc. It can take time. Let your doctor AND nurses know that you have the meds and that you’ll take them, unless otherwise instructed. If you have an ostomy, take your supplies with you- it’s not a given that they have what YOU need.
- Records from your regular gastroenterologist and your general practitioner, as well as their addresses and phone numbers. One would think that they are all connected now- they aren’t. Even as they tell you they will contact your regular doctors- it can take time. If you on the other hand have your records, double tests can be avoided.
- Your phone, charger and ear-buds. Self-explanatory. When am I going to work on my candy-crush skills if not in the hospital? Listen to the Ninth Symphony in one piece? Also, I have photos of my loved ones and pets on there. Some people like to take their kindle or tablet with them. I don’t, because I don’t want to worry about locking stuff away. Pretty much anything to entertain you- crosswords, sudoku, magazines- whichever.
- Your own pajamas and blanket. I hate hospital gowns. They are flimsy material, look like the food I just threw up and are always too big for me. I understand that you need to wear them for procedures etc. However, to sleep, I prefer my pajamas and, if they allow it, my own blanket. Your own pillow can be magical too- especially if you get stiff necks.
- Ear plugs. Hospitals are noisy, especially at night. To get something resembling a good night’s sleep, take ear-plugs with you. Some hospitals even provide patients with ear-plugs, but I wouldn’t count on it. Alternatively, you could use a white noise app on your phone. I heart technology.
- Tooth-brush. Yes, they have that, but most toothbrushes I have seen in hospitals are awful. Also, it’s not item number one on this list, because when you are doubled over in pain, fighting infections, etc.’ your teeth hygiene is not the first thing on your mind. However, once you are a little better, but not well enough to be released, you’ll want to brush your teeth.
- Dry Shampoo. Depending on what you have done, showering and washing your hair may not be an option. I like Bumble&Bumble pret a powder (and no, they are not paying me to say this). It is expensive, but has lasted me over a year.
- Lotion and chap stick. Most hospital rooms have dry air and your skin can feel tight and crack. Yes, most hospitals will have products of their own, but I like to have my own stuff. Something familiar in a surrounding that is not so nice makes you automatically feel better.
- Your own slippers, flip-flops, fresh underwear. Much to the chagrin of my nurses, I like getting up, and if it’s only to walk around the ward a bit. Flip-flops are for the showers (if you are allowed to shower).
- Make-up: Yes, I like putting on my make-up when I am in the hospital. After surgeries and procedures, it made me feel like less of a zombie. Also, my family in Germany wants to see pictures and I don’t want to scare them. Call me superficial, but make-up put me in a better mood.
Obviously, this list won’t work for the ICU and should be personalized, but it’s what I put in the hospital bag.